I agree with puzzleannie that, “The procedure for different couples entering the Church will differ according to dozens of variables so speculation is useless and to no purpose.” Tcraig is quite accurate, and perhaps we might just keep in mind some notions or principles.
- The word “blessing” in this context can be misleading. In the Latin Church, a blessing is not the same as a convalidation, even though the term “blessing” is often used to describe both in colloquial speech.
A blessing of a married couple is an invocation of God’s protection or grace or beneficence upon them. It does not have legal effect. It presumes that the marriage is already valid. It does not involve the couple exchanging marital consent in order to establish the bond of marriage.
Sometimes on anniversaries or other special occasions, the couple will also “repeat” or “reaffirm” their original vows as part of this. But since a valid marriage already exists, it cannot be made any more valid by such a blessing. Up to now, there has not been an express ritual to do this, but I understand that the new Rite of Marriage will contain one.
A convalidation is a remedy by which a previously invalid marriage involving **at least one Catholic **is made valid by a new act of consent to marriage. A convalidation has a legal effect in the Church. It involves the couple exchanging marital consent to establish the bond of marriage according to the Catholic form of marriage.
The key to understanding convalidation it is remedies a marriage involving at least one Catholic that was invalid:
a) because of a lack of consent or an impediment (and the reason no longer exists), or
b) that it was celebrated with the appearance of the canonical form of marriage but really lacked something essential to that form, such as a priest who lacked the faculty or a lack of two witnesses or there was a problem with the vows, etc.
The simple convalidation involves the parties marrying properly according to the canonical form and placing a true and new act of marital consent.
- Keep in mind that **only marriages involving at least one Catholic **party must be celebrated according to our canonical form of marriage, or the form must be dispensed from, or an exception provided in Church law must exist. Otherwise a marriage does not enjoy even the appearance of validity.
This also involves the parties marrying properly according to the canonical form and placing a true and new act of marital consent.
People often call this “convalidation” when applied to Catholics who “married outside the Church,” but it **technically **is not a convalidation. This point has recently been re-iterated by the Apostolic Signatura. So while the actual ceremony would be the same as a true convalidation, there is a difference in how canon law assesses the situation.
Non Catholics can marry each other validly without the Catholic form of marriage. If both are baptized, the marriage is also a sacrament as Yerusalyim notes. They need only
a) be free from the impediments of divine law, which binds everyone, and
b) express marital consent according to any form required by their own religion (if any) and the state.